Sir Richard Francis Burton is an explorer, linguist, scholar, and swordsman. His reputation has been tarnished, his career is in tatters, and his former partner is missing and probably dead. Algernon Charles Swinburne is an unsuccessful poet and follower of de Sade, for whom pain is pleasure and brandy is ruin. They stand at a crossroads in their lives, and are caught in the epicentre of an empire torn by conflicting forces: Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier, and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labour; and Libertines oppose repressive laws and demand a society based on beauty and creativity, while the Rakes push the boundaries of human behaviour to the limits with magic, drugs, and anarchy.
The two men are sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum, when Lord Palmerston commissions Burton to investigate assaults on young women committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack, and to find out why werewolves are terrorizing London's East End. Their investigations lead them to one of the defining events of the age, and the terrifying possibility that the world they inhabit shouldn’t exist at all.
©2010 Mark Hodder (P)2012 Audible Ltd
Wow. What a story, what a series!!
Mark Hodder spins a brilliant yarn. He winds real historical characters into a complex evolving steampunk tale of time and fantastic technology in a world where Victoria doesn’t survive an assassins bullet. This is the first book in a series of three and it’s a ride all the way to the finish. Nothing here is obvious and the twists kept me on the edge of my Galaxy S3 until the last paragraph. Get the series and shut yourself away for the weekend.
Great setting and very well described. The time-travel idea was pretty obvious from the start. Loved the fact that the bad guys were well known personalities from science.
"Steam Punked and Loving it"
I stumbled across this book after doing some research on Spring Heeled Jack. I fell in love with it and could not stop listening. The characters are wonderful and brought to life by Gerard Doyle's fantastic narration. The plot weaves in and out of time and it all comes together beautifully, leaving you wanting more. Fantastic creations and ideas, some that were actually made and others that have been Steam Punked into glorious gothic inventions.
A great listen.
"excellent all round innovative and gripping"
A very unusual mix of storyline which is believable in most parts, the script is very descriptive producing elaborate mental imagery. The narration is awesome and compelling, I really struggled to stop listening, a really great job and I was straight on to part 2.
"Odd, Original and Memorable"
An entertaining story that hangs together pretty well. It has some dark moments but it also has moments that did make me smile. The author writes well although sometimes he is a little repetitive on a particular point.
It is mainly a time-travel story in which a man from the 23rd century, keen to reinstate the family's good name, tries to stop his ancestor from killing Queen Victoria and in the attempt dramatically changes the course of history. During the course of the book there is a bit of confusion about the paradoxes that the storyline sets up, but it is all lost in the enjoyable silliness of it all, including a Charles Darwin with two brains and a mechanical Brunel!
Spring-Heeled Jack is a real Victorian phenomena and is worth a look in Wikipedia, but read this after you have listened to the book! Hodder has carefully followed the 'real' myth and speculation in the story he has woven.
The narrator also does a fine job.
"interesting, but slightly strange"
not sure about this. I haven't read any steam punk literature before and have to confess to barely knowing what it is. And yet there's a strange academic challenge here - and a lot of hmm yes, what if?
the book took me longer than usual to listen to and then it finished. Hmmm ....
A superb match of narrator and material, Gerard Doyle's telling of this highly original and fast-paced adventure captures the 'Boys' Own/ Flashman' sensitivity of the story while giving it a dry irony and wit that makes the characters feel authentic and yet doesn't take itself too seriously. Can't recommend this book highly enough... looking forward to the next in the series.
"A rip roaring romp through an alternate history"
I loved the fact that the characters were real, the fact that people I had considered heroes turned out to be the villains of the piece and the inventiveness much of which felt as if it so could have been true.
Favourite character? Has to have been the various parakeets, and although silent, Fidget, who always managed to lighten the moment.
Just when you thought it was safe to go into the park...
Can't wait to start listening to the rest of the series!
"A great read"
Gripping, well-read, characterful
The story as whole is a great concept.
The final time that they're in the park for the assassination.
It did inspire emotion, which added to your desire to not put it down!
This was a really great. I like Burton and Swinburn, despite the eccentricities and even though they're completely different characters. The other people in the story get enough background to make them interesting themselves and are developed to the right extent, so they have a degree of importance, whilst still leaving the centre stage for the 2 main characters. The story is an intriguing one, the hole concept of affecting ones own past with the ability to time travel and its unintended consequences. I'd definitely recommend this and am looking forward to the second in the series.
"A very interesting imagining"
Yes, it was an interesting foray into a past quite different from the one recorded in the history books. There were so many different characters it will probably take another listen to fully appreciate them.
I loved all the scenes with Algernon Swinburne. Although he claimed to be utterly depraved he was a likeable character with a strong sense of loyalty.
The voices selected brough a warmth and likeableness to many of the main characters and he made those who had bodily modifications sound so very different it really made them come alive.
It had some elements that made me smile but it was most interesting for the world described in such great detail in the novel and for the unfolding of the twists and turns of the plot.
The tone, tenor and varying accents used by Mr Doyle kept me listening even when I thought the story was lagging a bit.
The varying accents sounded authentic.
It certainly had me pondering about the author's imagination!
What a wonderful imagination Mr Hodder has! And he managed to express his ideas so clearly and neatly overcame the various paradoxes that time travel can cause. I am not a lover of time travelling tales but this book was so enjoyable that my bias totally evaporated. I really liked the concept that culture shock can actually kill. As a frequent user of this phrase, it really struck me as funny (ha ha - not peculiar). Burton's sidekick Swinburne nearly stole the show and I can so easily see a movie being made based on this book. An unexpected joy and highly recommended to the normal crew.
For lovers of Sherlock Holmes and Jules Verne the Burton & Swinburne novels are nothing short of a treat combining the best of both of these classic authors.
Mark Hodder manages to conjure up a delightful mix with gritty action, memorable characters and a plot that whilst twisted at times, never seeks to confuse the reader.
The setting is rich and detailed and the narration a joy. If you love the steam punk genre or just want to be entertained these books will not disappoint.
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